Maine editorial: Yucca, caucuses linked

Maine’s Portland Press Herald published an Aug. 16 editorial blaming the early Nevada presidential caucuses for preventing the opening of the proposed dump for high level nuclear wastes at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. The editorial also called for reviving the moribund nuclear power industry.

“One of the worst decisions in U.S. energy policy was letting the two major political parties move the Nevada caucuses into the early weeks of the presidential selection process,” the newspaper’s editorial read. “So, in addition to having to promise New Hampshire voters that they will be independent and pledging Iowa voters permanent fealty to farm subsidies, anyone who wants to be president has had to express deep opposition to the Yucca Mountain federal nuclear waste dump. … Having a reliable dump for nuclear waste could … spur the growth of the nuclear power industry, which would provide needed balance in our energy portfolio.”

The newspaper’s stance wasn’t all that surprising—some radioactive material from the now-defunct Maine Yankee nuclear power plant is still stored in Wiscassett. More surprising was the near unanimity in reader comments opposing the editorial’s views, both on Yucca and reviving the industry. Samples:

• Moving it to Yucca doesn’t make the problem ‘go away.’ This generation needs to learn from the last and not remake the mistakes of the past.”

• “There’s no such thing as ‘a reliable dump for nuclear waste.”

• “It’s facile and naive to say ‘Pick a spot, do it the safest way possible and move on.’ At Yucca Mountain they tried exactly that, but it turned out to not be so ‘safe.’”

Congress targeted Yucca for the dump 23 years ago, and the dump was supposed to open in 1998, 10 years before the first Nevada caucuses were held, so there have probably been more factors at work in stopping the dump than just the caucuses.